The gender gap in Australian music is still showing alarming disparities in the representation of females compared to that of males across many of its sectors. According to the latest figures compiled by ABC’s social media producer Ange McCormack, for instance, 21 per cent of the top 100 most-played tracks on Australian radio stations in 2018 were by female artists, and only 19 per cent of APRA payments went to female songwriters.
One area that has seen improvement over the last four years is the earnings gap between male and female songwriters. McCormack reports that this has been steadily narrowing. So by 2018, APRA-registered female songwriters were earning 88 cents for every dollar that the average male equivalent was earning – up 11 cents on the year before. Nevertheless, many other metrics show the industry is lagging badly on female equivalence and representation. For example a low 39 per cent of boardroom roles in Australia’s peak music bodies are held by women.
One area McCormack’s report does not look into is jobs in record engineering and production, but this might be where females are most seriously underrepresented if a recent US study is any guide. A report by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reveals that of 871 credited producers on 400 Billboard Hot 100 chart songs from 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2018, only 2.1 per cent were female.
With this in mind, APRA AMCOS has initiated a series of workshops on music production called Equalize in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Run by many of Australia’s leading engineers, producers, screen composers and art music composers are running the workshops, these are intended to bring female songwriters, composers and producers together to build career opportunities.
“Equalize has been designed to provide women and non-binary songwriters and composers with hands-on skills development in a professional studio setting alongside established music producers and creators,” said Jana Gibson, Head of Member Services at APRA AMCOS.
“The initiative aims to highlight music production as a viable career pathway for this underrepresented sector of our membership.”
Equalize’s final workshop will be held in Melbourne at Abbey Road Institute on 30 March. Find details here.
This initiative comes on the back of the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards & Forum (AWMA) which was held in Brisbane in October. A ground-changing event that presented awards across 14 categories, it will hopefully have a second iteration this year.